God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
I emphasized those words today because the idea of building one another up has come up twice in my daily devotions in the past two days. If God gives us a word over and over again, it is time to sit up straight, pay attention, and see what he wants for you to do. Speaking encouraging words may sometimes seem like it borders on what some call 'flattery'. It is like we think hearing we are valued, doing a good job, mean a lot to someone, and are appreciated is not all that true or just 'empty words'. You could be right when the words are spoken from an insincere heart, but I know when my BFF speaks words of encouragement into my life, they aren't meant to flatter - they are meant to build up. We need individuals in our lives who will 'build up' in a very sincere manner, but also have the freedom to 'speak up' when something isn't right - so we don't get left behind in our growth together!
No one left out - no one left behind. There is no one left out in God's love - he loves all - and he asks us to do the same. Are all individuals all that 'loveable' all of the time? Nope - and you could put my name at the top of the list on occasion because I can get crabby, obnoxious, and even a little way to sarcastic at times. No one is perfect - no one is to be left out - even when they are behaving in a manner that we interpret as 'less than loveable' at times. Chances are they also know their behavior isn't top notch at the moment and are hopeful you will extend a bit of grace. Maybe that is one way we make sure no one is left behind - we give grace when grace is needed most - thereby building one another up in love.
No one left behind is a result of no one being left out. Grace doesn't pick and choose which 'faults' or 'failures' will be forgiven - grace forgives them all. Grace doesn't give to some and leave others out in the cold - it gives to all as the opportunity arises. Some may feel grace lets someone off the hook, but it doesn't. In fact, grace puts them on the hook with God! When we extend grace where it was the least deserved, there comes a time in that other person's life when they will feel a little convicted about that moment when they needed that grace. Why? God goes to work through us to reveal what needs to be changed - grace doesn't expose us to shame - it brings us to the throne where we can have our sins washed away.
Speak encouraging words to one another - where does this fit into the picture when someone is acting a little bit like a 'ding-dong' and we aren't all that impressed with their behavior? Mom used to say we catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. She was reminding me that grace words don't tear down, they build up. Grace words don't 'shoo away' - they welcome. Grace words don't sting - they soothe. Do you think it is possible God intends for us to become savvy in the use of our 'words of encouragement' so that we are not just 'saying nice things', but actually helping another to see that their failure or fault isn't pushing them outside of his grace, but bringing them into the embrace of it?
Build one another up - not in flattering words, but in genuine words of grace and love. Never leave another out because of their fault or failures - they need to be embraced the most when they are the least deserving of the embrace. I walk a little faster than my BFF, and I physically have to slow down at times to stay in step with her, but the walk is so much more enjoyable when we are doing it together! Just sayin!